By Lynda Jensen
Massive road work plans for Highway 7 are set to begin in April, with officials attending an informational meeting Tuesday about the subject.
The work is going according to plan with a familiar detour in place, with the exception that state officials were surprised to be the proud new owners of a box culvert bridge along the route. Click here for detour map. For a second map of each roundabout, etc. click here.
“You mean, we may have bought a bridge?” said a surprised Dave Johnston of the Minnesota Department of Transportation to the crowd of largely township officials. To see a photo of bridge, click here.
“It’s not on the critical list, but you can have it,” joked one of the Hollywood Township officials who attended the meeting.
“I don’t think it was our intention to buy a bridge,” responded project engineer Kelly Brunkhorst of MnDOT.
After the meeting, Charlie Burns and Curtis Thaemert of Hollywood Township visited the location with Johnston and Brunkhorst, confirming its existence and nature.
The bridge is located immediately south of Highway 7 on Tacoma Avenue, well within the 75-foot right-of-way owned by the state, and within sight corners there, which are also owned by the state.
It was noted by someone in the audience that the Highway 7 Coalition submitted pictures of that bridge to MnDOT earlier.
Brunkhorst noted that they are researching the issue, with a request about it forwarded to the metro district, since the bridge is located in Carver, which is considered the metro area. “We’ve not heard yet,” she said.
Due to the lengthy detour in place (see map), nearly all those involved expect unofficial detours to occur.
Township officials were advised to do the following things:
• use a traffic counter to take official counts either before or after the detour is in place. This is at the township’s expense. It was noted by MnDOT that sometimes counties are willing to do counting for townships.
• keep track of the extra costs associated with additional maintenance, such as keeping bills to pay sub-contractors who do road maintenance.
From there, MnDOT will review the claim and then decide to pay it or not.
It was noted by McLeod County Commissioner Ray Bayerl that semi trucks are what causes extra headaches, if they are driven on roads that aren’t truck routes. “People can drive where they want to, but watch semis,” he said.
“You need to protect your roads,” Johnston agreed.
Lester Prairie Clerk Marilyn Pawelk asked why the project wasn’t phased from Silver Lake to County Road 1, instead of blocking off the entire highway.
Brunkhorst answered that the job was initially planned over two years, and that restrictions like that hamper the contractors when they plan for big equipment and the like. There will be 45 days of milling pavement off the road, 45 days of straight paving, as well as grading that needs to be accounted for.
“It would take much longer,” if the state phased it in such a way, Johnson said. “It would make it a two-year contract.”
“I just know there’s a lot of frustration,” Pawelk said.
It was noted that cross intersections will be open and maintained, unless there is activity at a particular location. For example, when crews are grading, it’s harder to leave intersections open, Johnston said.
State officials were also asked why a left turn lane at McLeod County Road 2 won’t be added in Silver Lake. “Th at was reviewed and the decision was made by those who are a lot higher than us,” Johnston said.
He noted that administratively it would be easy to add to the project, but when it comes to the DNR, PCA, and Corps of Engineers, things aren’t that simple.
It was noted that both Delano and Watertown have small bridges that are located in town, and can’t handle extra traffic. The Delano river bridge on Highway 12 will be under construction at this time, but the alternative is still in town and not set up for large-scale extra traffic.
Highway 7 work begins April 14
The road work, planned between Silver Lake and St. Bonifacius, will begin April 14 and end Nov. 15. MnDOT’s plan is to mill and overlay 19 miles of Highway 7 from Silver Lake to Carver County Road 10, starting the project on its east end, past St. Bonifacius.
Plans include the following:
• adding passing lanes at four locations: east of Silver Lake near the intersection with McLeod County Road 15, near the Carver County Road 21 intersection, and between Highway 25 and Carver County Road 10.
• adding a center left-turn lane north of Lester Prairie on McLeod County Road 9 along Highway 7.
• adding two roundabouts at the intersections of Highway 7 and Highway 25 between Watertown and Mayer, and at Carver County Road 10 between Watertown and Waconia.
Although the entire section of highway will be shut down over the summer, the project work will be broken into two stages.
The first stage will begin east of St. Bonifacius, starting April 14 and ending in the last part of June.
The second stage will begin soon after June 28, and encompass Highway 25 and Carver County 10. It should end Sept. 8.
Plans are to work on the two roundabouts on the following timelines: the roundabout on County Road 10 by the end of June, and the one at Highway 25 by the end of August.